After many years dedicated to my students and the business of Acting, it has come to my attention, that the Biz, is no longer for actors who just wish to act. It is a business! Both young and older actor must take responsibility to read your contracts and if anything looks suspicious, or is not written in the contract or a rider, please call SAG/ AFTRA immediately and or your agent or manager.
I am still fighting a Disney show, who told me I was doing a SAG show, paid me SAG wages, but never reported anything to Pension and Welfare or Medical. Not their fault and not SAG/AFTRA’S fault, but mine.the show was made for Disney but not by Disney. I mean where was I? Nine years of residuals gone.
I was working and not looking at residuals for 9 years while they showed the show 4 times a day and I never got the money the residuals or Pension and Health. Please look at everything.As actors we want to please everyone, and our contracts usually come just before we perform…but take a moment to really look at what you are signing.
Don’t just think your agents know all of the information either. SAG for example does not cover photographs. If they are taking photos, ask the production company what the photos are for?t Call your agent to make sure that you have a rider for it or it is in the contract. If it says at Producers discretion, they can use your face, voice, whatever and you get nothing. Remember your face and body is your business. Foreign residuals on some commercials are never found Movies and TV shows, are usually checked by SAG/AFTRA,
This recently happened to me on a commercial and the Production Assistant said, “Oh don’t worry, if we use your picture, we will let you know.” I had my agent for a year calling them because they were using my picture on the web for their product and not paying me. I never got the foreign-use pay.It took me a year to get $3,600.00 when they really owed me $5,000.00
My suggestion to all actors is take a moment to read everything and ask your agent or manager to send you the breakdown as it is listed to the agent/manager,so you know what they are offering and can come from a educated place when talking to the AD or PA. You don’t want to upset anyone, but just be business-like with your requests and have your questions ready for when you are to sign. Also contact responsible Income Tax people to let you know what you can or cannot claim on W2s and on Income Tax. Classes and mileage can be taken off of taxes if it is continuing education and also miles for Commercial, TV and Movie auditions.You are a business, so treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated. Be kind but firm with what your needs are.
Toni Attell teaches at UCLA-Extension and has small private classes in the San Fernando Valley. http://www.attell.com